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Step by step guide to song writing

Writing a song can be fun and interesting, but it can also be challenging and stressful. Some people have a better ability to write songs than others, and if your livelihood depends on it, then it is obviously very important! Sometimes the hardest part is to get started, and other times you have different pieces of the song you just don’t know how they are all going to fit together.

You may be after a hit song that you will one day hear on the radio, or you might just want something more personal to sing to your loved one/s. Whatever the case may be, if you are stuck not sure how to write your song, then never fear, the step by step guide to song writing is here!

Song writing is certainly an art in itself; it takes a special kind of person to get those creative juices flowing and to write an awesome song. There is certainly a difference between a singer and a songwriter, but people can be both.

Some people are happy to give away the songs they wrote to big names in the industry and make it a hit, others are singer song writers that create and sing their own music. There are certainly benefits to both, you could also consider partnering with another song writer or singer to have two creative minds flowing.

It can certainly sometimes be difficult to get the words out and you can suffer from writers block, it happens to the best of us. But it is important that you don’t give up, maybe it could be a good idea to take a break, and come back to it later.

Most song writers will always be looking for improvement, and rarely think their song is good enough or finished. They probably end up tweaking and tweaking until their head turns blue. So it is also important that you know when enough is enough. Get other people’s opinion to see what they think.

So, if you are stuck in a rut and just can’t get that song from your mind and onto paper, then read on below at the step by step guide to song writing:

Getting started

This can certainly be the hardest part, especially if you don’t have anything to work off or any lingering ideas in your mind. Everybody works differently but most song writers have some sort of book or paper that have lyrics or something similar written down.

If this is you, then a good place to start would be here. If this is not you, then it is probably going to be a little bit more difficult to get started. Just to start getting those creative juices flowing, try writing some lyrics about something you can see in your eye line. Hopefully by the end of it you’ll have something to work with.

Song title

When you have some lyrics down and you have a general idea of what your song is and where you want it to go, then it could be a good idea to play around with some song titles. Remember this is your creative process and nothing is set in stone, so don’t be afraid to chop and change whenever you see fit.

Play around with some of the lyrics you already have and see what titles you come up with. Titles can help further establish the direction of your song so make sure you take some time here. The song title obviously needs to relate to the lyrics as well as be quite memorable.

Guide to song writing
Photo: Steshka Willems, Pexels.

Song structure

Song structure is paramount, yet some can find it difficult to achieve. If your song doesn’t have proper structure then listeners can be confused and not understand the type of journey you are trying to take them on. Think about it, all the greatest hits have good repetition and song structure.

There are three main sections of each song and they are repeated at various times, you have your chorus, verse and bridge. If you are stuck for trying to write a song, it is important that you keep it simple, you can always try to change or jazz it up a bit at a later point in time.

Think in images

Yes this might sound a bit weird to do, but you could be trapped in a downwards spiral of song writing despair because you are trying too hard to think of the words to say. Maybe instead of this you could try thinking about the type of images that come to mind.

Think about emotion and how you want the listener to feel when they hear your song. Emotions and imagery can be a huge part of a song and can make or break it and can help listeners establish a strong connection with the song. Find images that you believe represents your song and move on from there.

Establish the melody

Once you’ve got the bulk (or all) of your lyrics/ song down pat, you might have found that the melody just pops out at you. Hopefully it is easy for you to establish the melody, because if you can’t there might be bigger problems ahead and you may need to rework your song a bit.

Your melody is all about the rhythm, volume and pitch, it is the part of the song that really evokes your emotion and helps build that connection with the listener. If you aren’t sure where your melody should sit in your song, it could be a good idea to play around with it a little bit to see where it best suits.

What are the chords

The chords are likely to establish how your song will actually sound, it’s not just about the lyrics anymore! You should start with something simple and see if it gels well with your lyrics. Some song writers even have a few chords recorded (or in their brain) before they even start writing the lyrics.

Do you need a co-writer

Sometimes you just don’t have all the skills required to make the perfect song, so you will need to find a co-writer to help you along the way. It is important that you establish the agreement and conditions of your partnership from the beginning.

You should also look to get the agreement in writing and signed off. This means that if the partnership does eventually break down in the future, you’ve got a written document of how things were supposed to work that can be used to settle disagreements. Also remember to copyright your work!

Record the song

Now that you’ve finally got everything else out of the way, it is time to record your song! This process can be really exciting but also stressful if you can’t figure out why something isn’t working like you thought it would in your head.

However, if you have followed all the above steps and really took your time to develop a well rounded song, you should have little to no problem getting your song recorded. You have a few different options for recording, but once you’ve got the final product it is up to you if and how you want to distribute it.

What do you think about it?